Developing Countries Thwart Sexual Left at UN Negotiation
NEW YORK, November 18 (C-Fam) Traditional countries blocked an effort to undermine parents’ ability to monitor and restrict children’s access to information about homosexuality, transgender issues, and abortion, in the UN social policy committee this week.
Mexico was forced to remove any mention of a report of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child from a resolution on bullying. Delegations from traditional countries complained that the report promoted a right of children to access information about sexuality, including homosexuality and transgender issues, without parental consent.
“We strongly disagree with the suggestions in the work of certain UN entities that children should have unrestricted access to certain types of information related to reproduction and sexuality,” said the delegate of Nigeria after the resolution on bullying was adopted on Tuesday. “Such assertions have no basis in international law or international consensus,” he emphasized.
The Nigerian delegate said there was “no internationally agreed understanding of the child’s right to privacy independently of his or her parents” and was critical of the work of the UN system to promote sexual autonomy for children.
“Nothing in this resolution should be interpreted as a limitation on the prior right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children,” he said.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is a UN human rights body that tracks the efforts of countries to protect children’s rights. The report of the committee that was eventually deleted from Mexico’s resolution on bullying called for limits on parents’ ability to monitor and restrict children’s’ access to digital information about sexuality.
“Parents’ and caregivers’ monitoring of a child’s digital activity should be proportionate and in accordance with the child’s evolving capacities,” the report states.
The same report recommends that governments strip parents of their rights and even force parents into “counseling” sessions when they try to limit their children’s ability to access information about sexuality and transgender issues. The committee stated that such an intervention might be “vital in circumstances where parents or caregivers themselves pose a threat to the child’s safety or where they are in conflict over the child’s care.”
The committee’s report cited its own previously expressed opinion that “there should be no barriers to commodities, information and counselling on sexual and reproductive health and rights, such as requirements for third-party consent or authorization” from a 2016 report on the right to education.
The 2016 report goes as far as calling on governments to “overcome barriers of stigma and fear experienced by, for example, adolescent girls, girls with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex adolescents” and “decriminalize abortion to ensure that girls have access to safe abortion.”
These reports are non-binding and have no authority in and of themselves. They only represent the personal opinions of the members of the committee. Even so, they can be influential when they are used by UN agencies or other international donor agencies in their programming.
Last year, the UN Children’s Agency was embroiled in a scandal for promoting access by children to “age-appropriate” sexually explicit materials in a report on children’s rights online. Citing the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the report said that children had a human right to access “age-appropriate” pornography and other sexually explicit information without parental or other legal restrictions. The agency was forced to withdraw the report after C-Fam, publisher of the Friday Fax, and groups dedicated to fighting trafficking and sexual exploitation complained in a petition.
The Nigerian’s remarks against such an interpretation of the right to privacy for children were echoed by delegates from Yemen, Iraq, Algeria, and Gambia.
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